CONTINUOUS rain from middle July to early August has displaced a total of 58,663 families in Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat and Cotabato provinces and caused damage to 249 hectares of agricultural crops in Lambayong, Sultan Kudarat, and 50 hectares of rice in Kabacan, North Cotabato, the National Disaster Coordinating Council reported as of August 17, 2010.

NDCC has also a standing warning on possibility of floods in the rivers and streams of Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga Sibuguey, Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Agusan del Sur and Agusan del Norte.

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Incidentally, these are the places where mining operations are most active and thus we can imagine what the warning of flood and landslides are all about.

Monday's flood in the city that stranded thousands but slipped out like nothing happened before midnight illustrated the potential for damage that long sustained rainfall can inflict on our roads, houses, and communities. So far, Davao City is lucky because even while flashfloods do come when the rain pours, we are somehow assured that the floodwaters will subside an hour or two after the rain stops. Not that we do not mind the inconvenience. We do, we hate it in fact, and especially those who have been caught in the middle of the flood and are forced to wait it out.

Despite the convenience, at least we know that the floodwaters will leave... soon. It's all about drainage, it's all about the tide. When the tide is high, the city's drainage cannot dispose of the extra water and thus the low-lying areas of the city are inundated. Some drainage pipes even expel instead of drain water in some instances.

In the Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao and Cotabato area, it's the Cotabato River basin that fills up and residents are already so used to it, they just pack up, leave, wait for government assistance to hold on, and then return when the water is down. That has been how it was since time immemorial such that the Maguindanao were named such. Maguindanao, meaning people of the flood plains.

Not so in those other places where the root of the problem is in the flattened mountains, the denuded forests, and the mined out slopes. Once forestlands and mountains, now people of Agusan, Surigao and Zamboanga live in fear of their riverbanks overflowing because there are no more mountains to speak of out there.

With nothing to hold back the water from such a vast area, rivers can fill up, boulders can easily be displaced, and lives can easily be taken.

And yet it is still August, the second month since the late typhoon season began.

So far, the typhoon season had just started. The last tropical storm was named Ester, the fifth letter in the alphabet, in a country where a whole alphabet of storms visits every year.

How much worse could it become? We can only prepare for the worse as Luzon have had the taste of it last year in Ondoy and Pepeng.

Knowing this and knowing what has held off those floodwaters through all these years -- our mountains and our forests -- however, leaves us scratching our heads as government insists on flattening all these. It even intends to intercede for mining operations in South Cotabato, when the already declared it doesn't want open pit mining.

All the signs are there for us to read.

Marikina was deluged because floodplains were turned into major development and residential zones. The mining areas in Compostela Valley have claimed hundreds of lives because of landslides that come every time there is continuous rainfall.

Thousands died in their sleep in Ormoc when rainfall from the denuded upland filled its river downstream, houses were swept off in South Cotabato when the build up of water on Lake Maughan was breached. We have a whole history of disasters that are easily linked to how we treat our mountainsides and rivers.

And yet our government plods on with its twisted sense of development; giving out our mountain slopes that used to protect our people, to those who only want to squeeze out the last dollar from these.

With these as foot markers, we can only call on our own people to stand up against those who only see personal profit in our mountains and rivers. National government is too far away to see the people whose lives are placed in danger.